NOC on the ground – Tennessee stands up to white supremacy

NationofChange's Zach D. Roberts reports from on the ground in Tennessee, where multiple white supremacist groups plan to converge this weekend for a series of marches and rallies.

Image credit: Zach D. Roberts/NationofChange

It’s been over two months since Heather Heyer was murdered by a terrorist in Charlottesville, and six white supremacists brutally attacked DeAndre Harris. Only a handful of the men that attacked citizens of C’Ville have been arrested while many more remain on the run.

Since then, though, DeAndre Harris has had an arrest warrant issued in his name for the supposed attack of a white supremacist. The charges were brought by a member of the League of the South through a local magistrate judge, after C’Ville police refused. DeAndre Harris’s lawyer, Lee Merritt spoke to NationofChange telling me:

“This is probably the most extreme case I’ve seen, not only is he charged with a crime but he’s charged at the same level as the men who broke his bones, who caused serious bodily injuries, caused him to get 18 staples in his head, fractured his tooth – the men who beat him with in an inch of his life – he’s getting the same charge as them – for someone who was involved in a violent supremacist group who were involved in attacks, not only of Deandre but attacks of other people all weekend.”

There’s a good chance that they’ll be in Tennessee this weekend, if the FBI has any interest in looking for them. The fact that the FBI has long ago deleted its Charlottesville tip page should tell you all you need to know about where their interests lie.

This weekend, multiple white supremacist groups plan on converging in Tennessee for a series of marches and rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. This time, it’s not over the removal of statues, but about immigrants and refugees, according to the Tennessean.

Two of the groups that will be back from Charlottesville are the League of the South and Vanguard America.

The League of the South, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a “neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.”

The league believes the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite…” the other is Vanguard America… a group that the terrorist who killed Heather Heyer was a member of (I’ll never mention his name).

Thankfully, Tennessee has been organizing and speaking out against this unwelcome intrusion of white supremacy.

Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland issued this press release on October 25th:

As Mayor of Murfreesboro and on behalf of the City Council, we want to condemn in no uncertain terms the ideology of white nationalists and white supremacists who are planning to bring their ideas to Murfreesboro. I am deeply saddened that any group, who is not from our community, can come in and create chaos and fear in our city. The people who are suffering from these actions are the residents and the business owners of our community. We will continue working to make Murfreesboro a great place to live.

Locals have already been organizing counter-protests and purposely separate events that provide alternatives to the hate filled rallies happening in their home towns. One such facebook group “Murfreesboro Loves” is planning kids friendly events with pizza and live music, far away from the events happening downtown.

A Murfreesboro pilates studio has “We hate pants not people” sign in their window, many other businesses in the towns square will be closing, just in case according to Rebecca Cardenas of WSMV. Cardenas also reports that multiple local events have been cancelled at the expense of local non-profits and groups. Police will be posted by local schools according to social media posts on an TN Anti Racist Network event page. That has not been independently confirmed by NationofChange yet.

Other groups will be more confrontational. The Tennessee Anti Racist Network will be staging a counter protest across the square from the “White Lives Matter” rally in Murfreesboro. They have already been organizing carpools, medic trainings and more this week.

In a post this week on their facebook page they posted:

Don’t give up our public space to these hate/fear groups. The marketplace of ideas is the solution to speech we don’t like. They can bring their ideas to the public square – and we will counter those bigoted ideals with our own values that are pro equality, pro diversity, pro black people, pro brown people, pro LGBTQ, pro woman, pro disabled, pro science!

Peaceful counter protesters are a counter weight to hate groups taking up public space and help negate false consensus, the notion that everyone supports your ideas since no one is dissenting.

Some of the hashtags to follow for this weekend are #HateFreeTN #Boo2Hate #ShelbyvilleLoves #MurfreesboroLoves – but of course follow NationofChange’s reporter on the ground there – me – on twitter at zdroberts.


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Zach D. Roberts is a photo/video journalist for His photojournalism has been featured in Time Magazine's Top 100 Photos of the Year, People Magazine's Photos of the Year and was awarded at FotoDC. Zach is co-produced Greg Palast's full length documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He is currently working on a book about the #resistance of 2017.